Do Video Games Deserve a Bad Rep?

Reston Aaron, Staff Writer

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In this day and age, video games are a common form of entertainment in many households. With 150 million Americans playing video games as of 2015, out of a total of 321 million people, it is reasonable that citizens would question the safety of video games as a whole. However, most news outlets refuse to admit that video games can be beneficial, and do not cause people to be violent or exhibit terrible behavior. A prominent example of this is when the World Health Organisation added “gaming disorder” to its list of mental health conditions. So, what benefits to video games have and do they deserve to be classified as an addiction?

In terms of physical benefits, games help you in more ways than you might think. When you are on a couch with a controller in your hands, playing Overwatch or Call of Duty, your hands have to move very quickly to shoot an enemy, or run forward. These fast movements, done while playing games, will improve your hand-eye coordination, which can help people learn how to type amongst other activities. A study done by the University of Toronto proved exactly this, with gamers and non gamers alike testing their hand-eye coordination. The study found that gamers weren’t naturally better at these tasks, but got the hang of it much faster than regular people.

A good emotional and mental well-being is sometimes poor for some people. People can suffer from depression, anxiety, and other disorders that can make you feel terrible, but video games can help with these issues. There was a study done in Germany by the University Medical Center of Hamburg, Germany, which tested to see if people suffering from depression could experience relief after playing action games. These participants played a game called Boson X, a game which follows a teacher running through a particle collider, and it worked. The participants were less depressed overall and had higher levels of cognitive ability.

One question that has still gone unanswered, do video games cause people to be violent? In fact, they do not. According to a study done in 2015 by both Rutgers and Villanova University, homicides, as well as aggravated assaults slightly go down in number when video game sales go up. The study means that video games have little to no negative effects on the user. They, in fact, cause more benefits than drawbacks.

In conclusion, video games as a whole provide physical benefits and mental benefits, such as increasing your reaction time and preventing mental health disorders such as depression. They also slightly reduce homicides and other violent crimes. So, the next time you pick up a game, whether it is Grand Theft Auto IV, or Call of Duty, remember that these forms of entertainment help you, not hurt you, and that playing them won’t make you commit murder.